Help me out on choosing an old school conventional reel

Hey guys, I'm looking to get into older conventional reels, but I'm out of my element and pretty overwhelmed. I have a Penn del Mar somewhere that's in good shape, but I really want something with a level wind since I have a hard time using my thumb to level it on the retrieve due to some joint pain in my hands. I'm looking to use it from shore or piers/jetties primarily. I think something with enough line capacity to handle larger bat rays and leopard shark is the largest I need, and I'll likely run 40-50 braid on it. Is there something affordable in older reels that offers antireverse, level wind, adjustable drag, and a nice loud clicker that can be switched on and off? I'm a spinning guy so want the same sort of functionality I'm used to.

Reel Newbie

Well-Known Member
If you’re looking for an old school penn levelwind, it seems like a 320gti, a 210, or a 209 will work for what you need. Those reels will hold plenty of braid. One step up is the 330gti, the 310, and the 309. The gti series has big ht100s, spool bearings, beefy gears and a graphite frame. The 10 series is a 9 series with ball bearings on the spool and slightly faster gears. The 9 series is the basic model, only bushings. Some of the older ones will have steel gears. Get the ones with aluminum spools, they will work the best for casting. Also check out the gto series. I have a 309 that I can sell to you too, if you want it.
109, 209/210 or 309/310 sounds about right, and the price on them is very reasonable at anything from $25-50 depending on condition and age, so I think that's what I'll look for.

Reel Newbie

Well-Known Member
I also have two of the 9 peerless, and they’re the size of 6000 ambassadeurs. The gears are a bit beefier than the abus, but I wouldn’t say that they would work for long on sharks and rays. Gti gears are have thick teeth and are almost that of senators, granted they are bronze and not steel. If I remember correctly, the 10 and the 9 series have some reels that use the jigmaster main, and steel ones can be found relatively easily. The Alantani will help if you need to rebuild the reels.


Well-Known Member
Sorry I dozed off before answering. Lol I was thinking about the reels and fell asleep.

You forgot the Penn 350. I think the 309/310 share the jigmaster main gear and drags.

Red Fish

Senior Member
109, 209/210 or 309/310 sounds about right, and the price on them is very reasonable at anything from $25-50 depending on condition and age, so I think that's what I'll look for.
For the old school, I would go with the 309. I believe it is still in production.
That being said, Penn was never really known for making good level winds.
Okay, on the cattle boats, I remember way back when, guys had the Penn Super Levelwind. I guess it’s like the Penn Fathom levelwind now.
The GTI’s are used by some guides. I would get the biggest, a 330 if someone wanted to go this route. I had the 310 some years ago and gave up on it after the pawl mechanism wore out two times. Bat rays tore that reel up everytime. It is more suited to something like salmon IMHO.
The Shimanos have much stronger levelwinds in like the TRG’s and Charter Specials for instance.
Well, I sent some PMs back and forth here, but in the meantime I bid on a couple reels on the bay of E. I ended up winning one, and a seller accepted a low-ball offer on another. I now have two Penn 209s coming in. I liked them and figured I may set one up as a spare pole for when folks come with.

Meanwhile, My girl went to our storage unit to look for some other things, and found a few poles that were stuffed away. Wouldn't luck have it, that one of them turned out to be a Daiwa Sealine 7' medium action with a very nice burgundy Penn 209 on it! :LOL: I forgot we even had it- I think they were given to us by a friend before our last move, and I never really looked them over so they were forgotten.

Still want to pick up a 309 (and maybe a 210 or 310, or 350 :) ) but I think these will do for now.